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Tackling Picky Eating Habits

Jul 18, 2008
Most parents have at least one child who they consider a "picky eater". They won't eat their vegetables or they won't touch a piece of fruit to save their life. Truth be told, every child needs a variety of foods throughout the day to maintain a healthy lifestyle including maintaining a healthy weight, heart, skin, digestive system and immune system. But, how do parents keep track of what their picky eaters are consuming to ensure they are receiving a well-balanced diet on a daily basis?

One simple way is to help your child keep a food journal. By keeping a journal you can show your child they are getting the right amount of fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, water and grains in a day. A journal also helps parents know they are giving their children the necessary foods from the food pyramid on a daily basis.

It is never too early to begin teaching your children about good nutrition. As early as age two children have the ability to make their own choices. They begin to assert their decision making power with little things like picking out their clothes or choosing what to eat. This is around the time parents start to hear "I don't like that" or "I'm not going to eat that."

By journaling you and your child can look back at the end of each day and discuss what they ate, what they didn't eat and how they can eat better the next day. You can have a conversation that sounds something like this: "You didn't have enough fruit today. What can we pack in your lunch pal tomorrow to make sure you are eating more fruits?" This will help teach your child to make sound, healthy food choices.

By utilizing a journal, parents are then putting their children in the "driver's seat" of their child's nutritional choices. This feeling of accomplishment is a great motivator. Children become eager to try that piece of broccoli or eat that slice of cheese.

In conjunction with using a journal parents should include kids in the kitchen. One of the best ways to create healthy breakfasts, lunches, meals and snacks is to let the child be the chef. Give them the chance to help make their own snack or pack their own lunches for school. This gives the child the opportunity to be a part of what they will eat which alleviates some of the picky eating habits children may have. It's also a great opportunity for parents to teach the kids about making the right nutritional choices.

Here are ten incredible tips to include children in the kitchen:

1. Squeeze oranges to help make fresh juice;
2. Spread peanut butter and jelly on bread;
3. Wash and prepare fruits and vegetables;
4. Measure ingredients;
5. Stir dry ingredients;
6. Pouring liquids into the batter;
7. Get ingredients from the refrigerator or cupboard;
8. Tear lettuce into pieces for salad;
9. Set the table; and
10. Clean the table.

The path to healthy living starts at home. Parents are role models for their children. Follow these easy steps and you and your family will be on their way to healthy living!

Lead by example - eat healthy and exercise.

Involve your child in the kitchen. Make family meals together.

To ensure success make sure you have a variety of healthy foods
and snacks available for your child.
About the Author
Regina Luttrell is is a Certified Kid's Nutrition Specialist and President of SnackerTracker. She created the SnackerTracker Nutritional Tracking System - an interactive journal for kids. Visit www.snackertracker.com for more information on kid's nutrition, family recipes, fun activities or to order a SnackerTracker Nutritional Tracking System.
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